Benny Hinn Divorce: Wife Suzanne Hinn Files For Divorce From Televangelist

March 1, 2010


For some reason, I had never heard of Benny Hinn until I read about him in the Other Sheep newsletter. Other Sheep is a world-wide ministry of glbt people who have been harmed by religious orthodoxy, in this case Christian fundamentalism. The truth is that Benny Hinn’s marriage was ruined when it got known that Hinn had sex with another man, and not just once I gather. Hinn is yet another example of the hypocrisy within the upper circles of Christian fundamentalism. In other words, these men will do anything to keep their reputations and bank accounts unblemished. Hinn makes Elmer Gantry look like an amateur, and like Gantry, he is subject to the same “temptations.” Most people would call him simply “human.” But in his case, it is an example of the usual Christian closet queenery cloaked as piety.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Deja Vu All Over Again, or A Gathering Storm in Newark

February 10, 2010

To quote that great American wit Yogi Berra (not to be confused with Yogi Bear, although they “bear” some resemblance), it’s “deja vu all over again.” Or, it’s the strange twisted sisters and brothers of Christian fundamentalism, that part of America that can’t claim a life of its own unless its in the fictional bosom of Jesus, infiltrating itself as a new fifth column into American life, desperately trying to declare every sperm sacred, kill a queer for Jesus, and join forces with any antifeminist, antigay factions they can scrounge up outside of Osama Ben Laden.

This is wonderfully exposed in a recent piece in Out In Jersey, “A Gathering Storm From Kampala to Newark,” written by Taylor Siluwe. Here is the article in its entirety, and my comments after it:

“A Gathering Storm From Kampala to Newark”
Taylor Siluwe

Are American evangelicals seeking to ‘Transform’ the world?
PrayForNewark seems innocent enough; so outwardly innocent that even Newark Mayor Cory Booker, possibly unaware of its ideological roots, gave it his blessing. But those roots have been exposed by Bruce Wilson (co-founder of Talk2Action.org), and PrayForNewark’s squads of church members. They are blanketing the streets “block by block” in prayer and are directly tied to the International Transformation Network (ITN.)
According to Wilson, “ITN is one of several global efforts, operating under the ‘transformation’ brand that are re-engineering along theocratic lines cities and even entire nations. For the Transformation movement, which claims homosexuals are possessed by demons and that prayer and faith healing have cured thousands of HIV and AIDS cases in the nation, Uganda is a prototype.” David Bahati (who drafted Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill) along with Ugandan First Lady Janet Musveni, have attended ITN conferences. Lloyd Turner, founder of PrayForNewark, spoke at ITN’s 2009 conference stating that the city of Newark is “97% adopted” and has seen a reduction in crime rates.

But the issues raised go much deeper. Rev. Bernard Wilks of Dominion Fellowship Ministries, a leader of the coalition behind PrayForNewark, is a member of the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA). According to their website, their mission is “… the fulfillment of Jesus’ great commission to make disciples of all nations.” One of Wilks’ fellow apostles is Jim Ammerman, the 83-year-old founder of the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC), an organization in charge of endorsing 270 chaplains and chaplain candidates for the armed services. Ammerman worked with an evangelical group based in Arkansas, the International Missions Network Center, to distribute the Bibles through the efforts of his 40 active-duty chaplains in Iraq. According to a Newsweek piece, Ammerman called Islam “a killer religion” and Muslims “the devil.”

A watchdog’s role requires constant vigilance. So states the website of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. When asked for a comment about President Obama recommitting himself to repealing the U.S. Milatary’s anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, Michael Weinstein, founder of the MRFF, succinctly said, “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.” While Weinstein expressed annoyance that the president hasn’t put a stop-loss in place to end the discharges of dedicated personnel while congress deliberates, he went on to point out other troubling aspects which insinuate a greater problem − what he described as the military’s “virulent” misogyny, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
The National Organization for Marriage produced an infamous fear-mongering ad on the dangers of same-sex marriage. It was titled ‘The Gathering Storm’, its words rang hollow and baseless to the ears of those fighting for marriage equality. However, The Gathering Storm’s often parodied opening − There’s a storm gathering, the clouds are dark and the winds are strong. And I am afraid − in the broader sense, inadvertently rings true. Because from the streets of Kampala, the largest city in Uganda, to the streets of Newark, the largest city in New Jersey, many see the creeping influence of fundamentalist Christian apocalyptic ideology creeping into the US government and our armed forces and are extremely afraid.
The MRFF describes itself as a “national movement to restore the wall separating church and state in the most technologically lethal organization ever created by man; the United States armed forces.” With military contractor Trijicon engraving scripture onto rifle sights (which Weinstein reported to ABC who broke the story); with the Family Research Council lamenting that “gay behavior” should be completely outlawed in America; with Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality bill reportedly not only tied to The Family (the secretive group of political elites responsible for the annual National Prayer Breakfast) but also with International Transformation Network, a disturbing picture of a growing fundamentalist Christian Taliban is emerging. It is seeking to transform global culture, through government and the military they say, for the glory of Jesus.

Should Americans brush off Pat Robertson ignoring his own devilment while also invoking the presence of Satan in Haiti, or when he blames the next hurricane on a gay pride parade. All of this while fleecing his faithful followers at the expense of the LGBT community. A watchdog’s role does require constant vigilance, especially when the enemies of human equality and liberty disguise their bigotry, misogyny, warmongering and lust for dominion behind the innocuous face of the Prince of Peace.
Maybe it’s time the watchdogs began to bite.

[end Out in Jersey piece]

What makes the information in this piece so pertinent to me is that it reflects so much the plot of my novel “The Substance of God, A Spiritual Thriller” in which I talked about powerful networks of “Christian businessmen.” The Christian business network has long been recongized, but most people ignore its real focus: dissolving any distance between church and state; between Christianity as a political power and the rights of people whose morality is not based on Leviticus; and scapegoating anyone who stands between them and this agenda. (Strangely enough, Christ said in one of his most powerful arguments—against the Jewish kosher laws and hypocritical Levitican morality—”It is not what you put into your mouth that is unclean, it is what comes out of your mouth.” Still Christian fundamentalists and their business allies cherrypick from Leviticus, and have come up with a convenient moral package bayonetting whomever they feel they can get away with. Gays and lesbians this week, Moslems the next, abortion providers one week, and anyone—ANYONE—who subscribes to the idea of your bedroom being a private place and birth control being a private choice, in another.

What is happening in Newark is something to watch out for. It is a “perfect storm” of fake morality, race and poverty, crime and the dispossessed, all working together to see who is destroyed in the end.

Hitler, you can smile now. The “Christians” are doing your work.

February 10, 2010

To quote that great American wit Yogi Berra (not to be confused with Yogi Bear, although they “bear” some resemblance), it’s “deja vu all over again.” Or, it’s the strange twisted sisters and brothers of Christian fundamentalism, that part of America that can’t claim a life of its own unless its in the fictional bosom of Jesus, infiltrating itself as a new fifth column into American life, desperately trying to declare every sperm sacred, kill a queer for Jesus, and join forces with any antifeminist, antigay factions they can scrounge up outside of Osama Ben Laden.

This is wonderfully exposed in a recent piece in Out In Jersey, “A Gathering Storm From Kampala to Newark,” written by Taylor Siluwe. Here is the article in its entirety, and my comments after it:

“A Gathering Storm From Kampala to Newark”
Taylor Siluwe

Are American evangelicals seeking to ‘Transform’ the world?
PrayForNewark seems innocent enough; so outwardly innocent that even Newark Mayor Cory Booker, possibly unaware of its ideological roots, gave it his blessing. But those roots have been exposed by Bruce Wilson (co-founder of Talk2Action.org), and PrayForNewark’s squads of church members. They are blanketing the streets “block by block” in prayer and are directly tied to the International Transformation Network (ITN.)
According to Wilson, “ITN is one of several global efforts, operating under the ‘transformation’ brand that are re-engineering along theocratic lines cities and even entire nations. For the Transformation movement, which claims homosexuals are possessed by demons and that prayer and faith healing have cured thousands of HIV and AIDS cases in the nation, Uganda is a prototype.” David Bahati (who drafted Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill) along with Ugandan First Lady Janet Musveni, have attended ITN conferences. Lloyd Turner, founder of PrayForNewark, spoke at ITN’s 2009 conference stating that the city of Newark is “97% adopted” and has seen a reduction in crime rates.

But the issues raised go much deeper. Rev. Bernard Wilks of Dominion Fellowship Ministries, a leader of the coalition behind PrayForNewark, is a member of the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA). According to their website, their mission is “… the fulfillment of Jesus’ great commission to make disciples of all nations.” One of Wilks’ fellow apostles is Jim Ammerman, the 83-year-old founder of the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC), an organization in charge of endorsing 270 chaplains and chaplain candidates for the armed services. Ammerman worked with an evangelical group based in Arkansas, the International Missions Network Center, to distribute the Bibles through the efforts of his 40 active-duty chaplains in Iraq. According to a Newsweek piece, Ammerman called Islam “a killer religion” and Muslims “the devil.”

A watchdog’s role requires constant vigilance. So states the website of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. When asked for a comment about President Obama recommitting himself to repealing the U.S. Milatary’s anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, Michael Weinstein, founder of the MRFF, succinctly said, “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.” While Weinstein expressed annoyance that the president hasn’t put a stop-loss in place to end the discharges of dedicated personnel while congress deliberates, he went on to point out other troubling aspects which insinuate a greater problem − what he described as the military’s “virulent” misogyny, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
The National Organization for Marriage produced an infamous fear-mongering ad on the dangers of same-sex marriage. It was titled ‘The Gathering Storm’, its words rang hollow and baseless to the ears of those fighting for marriage equality. However, The Gathering Storm’s often parodied opening − There’s a storm gathering, the clouds are dark and the winds are strong. And I am afraid − in the broader sense, inadvertently rings true. Because from the streets of Kampala, the largest city in Uganda, to the streets of Newark, the largest city in New Jersey, many see the creeping influence of fundamentalist Christian apocalyptic ideology creeping into the US government and our armed forces and are extremely afraid.
The MRFF describes itself as a “national movement to restore the wall separating church and state in the most technologically lethal organization ever created by man; the United States armed forces.” With military contractor Trijicon engraving scripture onto rifle sights (which Weinstein reported to ABC who broke the story); with the Family Research Council lamenting that “gay behavior” should be completely outlawed in America; with Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality bill reportedly not only tied to The Family (the secretive group of political elites responsible for the annual National Prayer Breakfast) but also with International Transformation Network, a disturbing picture of a growing fundamentalist Christian Taliban is emerging. It is seeking to transform global culture, through government and the military they say, for the glory of Jesus.

Should Americans brush off Pat Robertson ignoring his own devilment while also invoking the presence of Satan in Haiti, or when he blames the next hurricane on a gay pride parade. All of this while fleecing his faithful followers at the expense of the LGBT community. A watchdog’s role does require constant vigilance, especially when the enemies of human equality and liberty disguise their bigotry, misogyny, warmongering and lust for dominion behind the innocuous face of the Prince of Peace.
Maybe it’s time the watchdogs began to bite.

[end Out in Jersey piece]

What makes the information in this piece so pertinent to me is that it reflects so much the plot of my novel “The Substance of God, A Spiritual Thriller” in which I talked about powerful networks of “Christian businessmen.” The Christian business network has long been recongized, but most people ignore its real focus: dissolving any distance between church and state; between Christianity as a political power and the rights of people whose morality is not based on Leviticus; and scapegoating anyone who stands between them and this agenda. (Strangely enough, Christ said in one of his most powerful arguments—against the Jewish kosher laws and hypocritical Levitican morality—”It is not what you put into your mouth that is unclean, it is what comes out of your mouth.” Still Christian fundamentalists and their business allies cherrypick from Leviticus, and have come up with a convenient moral package bayonetting whomever they feel they can get away with. Gays and lesbians this week, Moslems the next, abortion providers one week, and anyone—ANYONE—who subscribes to the idea of your bedroom being a private place and birth control being a private choice, in another.

What is happening in Newark is something to watch out for. It is a “perfect storm” of fake morality, race and poverty, crime and the dispossessed, all working together to see who is destroyed in the end.

Hitler, you can smile now. The “Christians” are doing your work.

The Manly Art of Seduction Gets Banned on FaceBook

January 12, 2010

 

Cover of the Manly Art of Seduction, by Perry Brass

The book banned on FaceBook

 

I’m not sure what it takes to get banned from FaceBook. I guess you have to do something so heinous that it has not only no redeeming social value, but you should not be able to show your face either in civilized company or on any street in New York. I mean, it should be in the same category as someone who kidnaps girls out of madrassas in Afghanistan and sells them into prostitution. O.K. I did not do that. And neither was I actually physically banned from a site that now captures the imaginations, time, and for many the advertising attention of edging onto a 100 mil people. That means that FaceBook now is an unofficial country, much larger than, say, Vatican City, with an amount of wealth that would make the Vatican pink with envy.

No, I did not get banned. My book did. Like a lot of authors, I got taken in with the idea that in order to sell my book to the multitudes, I needed a FaceBook ad. I had been flogging the hell out of the book on my FaceBook page to whomever would give me an inkling of attention (and let’s face it, any author’s friends, among whom are many other authors, get tired of being the same old meat to that writer’s works).

I needed an ad. So I clicked the little button that runs you through “creating your ad.” It was simple. My book is a how-to book. It is about mastering an art form. It could be the art of sculpture, or French cooking (pace Julia), Baroque dance, or flirting. O.K. It’s actually closer to the last one. The book is called The Manly Art of Seduction, How to Meet, Speak to, and Become Intimate with Anyone. The book is aimed squarely at gay men (you could pretty much tell that from the cover), and it has absolutely nothing to do with seducing 13-year-old virgins of any gender (sorry, Mr. Polanski), or imposing yourself in a male-chauvinist way on anyway. The main reason for my writing it is that in this age of Cubicle Hell and Digital Isolation, too many queer men have become just as klutzy as anyone when it comes down to going up to, meeting, and scoring with other men. They are wracked with feelings of rejection, even before they leave their apartments. I wanted to change this, and came up with a wonderful program to do this: I know, it has made me psychologically secure, socially popular, and sexually happy as a pig in doody most of my life. Since you are only allowed a paltry 100 character in your ad, I had to get in their “the fustest with the mostest” as Stonewall Jackson advised. So my ad had the book cover and these few words:

Frustrated, scared of rejection, a complete guide to emotional and sexual satisfaction with men.

The ad then came with a link to the Amazon page for ordering the book. Since on FaceBook ad rates are based on the size of your potential audience (and they are steeeep, let me tell you), I narrowed down my audience to single gay men: a merely 13,000 souls I was told. Therefore, the ad would appear on pages that other single gay men would see, and not on pages frequented by Christian households, etc. I released my copy up to the FaceBook gods, and a few hours later, got a message from them saying:

 “Hi Perry Brass,

 Thanks for purchasing a Facebook Ad! Below is the confirmation for the ad that you have created. You will be charged only for the impressions or clicks your ad receives and this amount will never exceed your daily budget. We will email a receipt for each charge from your Facebook Ads account to this email address.”

 This message was signed: The FaceBook ad team. I came to learn that at all points I would be interacting with the FaceBook Ad team, never with a real person who can be reached one-on-one. But I had the potential of reaching 13,000 randy, ready, single gay men, so what the hey (!) as they say.

 Blissfully, my ad ran. I was given a link to spot every page view and click, and the clicks did happen. I was getting a lot of clicks and hundreds of page views. I was happy. The book was not selling through the rafters on Amazon, but then we have a recession going on.

 Everything was hunky-doory for a week, when suddenly I got an email from my friends at the FaceBook Team telling me that:

“The content advertised by this ad is restricted. Per section 5 of Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines, this content is prohibited from being advertised on Facebook. We reserve the right to determine what advertising we accept, and will not allow the creation of any further Facebook Ads for this product. Ads for this product, service or site should not be resubmitted. We appreciate your cooperation with this policy.”

 In other words, the famous FaceBook team, looking over hundreds of thousands of FaceBook ads decided that my ad, for The Manly Art of Seduction, was not in keeping with FaceBook’s good name in this world. My product, a book, would be banned from FaceBook ads, even though it defamed no one (FaceBook has a ban on any product that calls for racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation hatred of any kind), sold no service, and did not direct anyone to any kind of questionable site other than Amazon.com.

 I was furious, of course, as any author or reader can imagine, and having obtained the name and email address of a real person at FaceBook, who answered me once in the name of the famous Team regarding a billing question, I fired off an email to “Betty.”

 “Dear Betty,

       Can you please explain to me why the ‘FaceBook team’ has decided that after 58,000 impressions and over a hundred clicks, charging me $68, my book will henceforth be banned from ever being advertised on FaceBook? I think that banning books is a very serious charge, and would like to know why FaceBook has suddenly decided that this book is offensive? The book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably hundreds of bookstores. So what is it about this book that FaceBook finds offense enough to ban it from ever being advertised on ‘our site’?”

I’m sure “Betty” felt this was a quagmire she was not going to get her kindly butt into, so she turned the question over to “Molly.”

“Hi Perry,

Thanks for writing in to us. This issue has been escalated, and after reviewing further, the product was determined to be unacceptable to run on our site. We do not allow ads for products with a sexual emphasis, including seduction, sexual health, etc. Please note that we reserve the right to choose which advertisements we’ll accept, and we will not allow the further creation of ads for this product. Users have demonstrated that they are very sensitive about these types of ads on our site, and we are taking these concerns very seriously.

 Thanks for your cooperation with this decision.

 Thanks for contacting Facebook,

 Molly

Online Sales Operations

Facebook

 I was, as ever, amazed at the chirpiness of this response from dear ol’ Molly. I was also amazed at how many other truly questionable ads I found on FaceBook—ads for a site for foot fetishists, for a site for definitely X-rated “massage therapists,” and for numerous dating and plain old escort services. One of my friends warned me, though, not to call attention to these ads, because the poor schnooks who took them out and were paying for them, would be bounced off, too, and didn’t they have a right to pay dollars for FaceBook’s millions of eyeballs, just as I had wanted to?

 I also learned that FaceBook has a truly hypocritical attitude toward gay content; they will censor any ad they feel is “too gay,” and once told The Advocate, a national gay magazine, that they could not use a picture of Matthew Mitcham, an “out” gay Australian diver who was a star at the Beijing Olympics, in a Speedo. In other words, an image that a couple of billion people had seen, this diver in a skimpy bathing suit, was not right for an ad for The Advocate. The Advocate, which is now owned by a gay media conglomerate, caved in, feeling they could just as easily switch the cover image to one of a straight celebrity in more than a Speedo. They did, and the FaceBook Team was happy. So my question is, do these more “blue” ads just get past the FaceBook Team’s eyes? Or, did some bluenosy fundamentalist, while on the lookout for trouble, alert the Team to the vileness of my book?

 (In regard to FaceBook’s hypocritical and homophobic stance on “gay” material, I can also attest that numerous other gay men have had similar experiences, to the point that even images of shirtless men have been deleted from some FaceBook pages. This goes on while the same kind of image can appear happily on other pages.)

 It’s all hard to say. But it does make me wonder now that we are entering that phase when Social Networking sites are becoming the gatekeepers of a lot of our culture, one way or another, what other things will be banned from promotion on FaceBook, etc.?

 As an aside, I Googled movie titles with the word “Seduction” in them: They are numerous, and some of them are tied to classic movies such as “The Seduction of Joe Tynan” with Barbara Harris and Meryl Streep. Sorry, Meryl, your movie can never be advertised on FaceBook. Also, I did an Amazon search of books with the same word in the title: I stopped counting after sixty titles. I would gather that none of these books can be advertised on FaceBook either. Sorry, you poor authors, you toilers of the pen and the DVD screen: clean up your acts! The Seduction Police are here.

You can also read more about FaceBook censoring The Manly Art of Seduction, How to Meet, Talk to, and Become Intimate with Anyone  in this article in Out in Jersey:

http://outinjersey.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=608:facing-homophobia-with-facebook&Itemid=1
For more information about the upcoming workshop based on the Manly Art of Seduction, Jan 20, 2o10, please visit

http://manlyartworkshop.eventbrite.com


Stay in Office, Eliot Spitzer

March 11, 2008

Marcxh 11, 2008  I just emailed this to the governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer’s, office.  Dear Mr. Spitzer,Please do not resign. I am begging you. Hang in there, be resolute. What happened to you is an affront to all mature people; I completely understand the situation you’ve been in, and support you so much that it is hard to put it into words. Finally NY has a governor who is more than a mediocre mouth piece for a party machine, who can inspire real love, loyalty, and genuine honor. And you are that. The sheer, revolting, vulgar hypocrisy of what has been done to you is so disgusting to me, but please don’t feel that the majority of thinking people in this state don’t support you. We do, and love you. And we want you to stay governor. I do with all my heart. Just realize this, and know how much we care for you and want you to remain in office. Sincerely, Perry Brass, What has happened to Eliot Spitzer is such an exercise in the hypocrisy of this period, when we expect public people to be public people 24/7, when there is no shield of basic human privacy for them, either officially or unofficially, ever.  There has not been a single, great, inventive, intelligent male (and I can’t account for females in this) yet who has not had some side of themselves in need of a place of privacy: and we are now destroying that. Or should I say, “they” have. I am not in this act, never have been, and never will be. At this point, the moral guardians of the Public Sphere, who will use any means at their disposal to invade the Private one (wire tapping, email surveillance, mail tampering—you name it), would have destroyed the lives and careers of  Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bill Clinton, and half of everyone else they could drag in. They will make running for public office into an exercise in mediocrity, cowardice, and shallowness; if it is not that already. We will be stuck with the next “morally pure” Hitler. What happened yesterday to Eliot Spitzer—when he was “exposed” by the New York Times and the news media machine,  is among the dumber things I’ve seen in my lifetime, but, hey, we’re in the period of the dumbing of everything, so why shouldn’t a brilliant man like Spitzer be the victim of it?Well, I just hope he gets to listen to the smart people of New York who want him to stay. I mean are begging him to stay. Don’t get caught up in the sheer bullshit of the moment, the tabloids in New York City out for your scalp and skull; the Republicans who are making money and careers out of eating you alive; and the rest of the media onslaught that is doing what it always does: selling ad space at your expense. It’s you today, Britney tomorrow, and then whomever else they can grind up and reduce to newsprint pulp or a moment of digital titilation. Don’t be fooled, Governor. We still want you. And I mean that. Perry Brasswww.perrybrass.com  

African Hate Words and What They Really Mean

January 22, 2008

“The faggot lovers Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz arrived in Kenya and were happily welcomed by homo activists in the Country. . . These two homos proved to be quite popular with Kenyan faggots and their supporters. The reception from these Kenyans was apparently so good, the two American faggots started contemplating plans of establishing the ‘Other Sheep’ East African chapter.” from Kenyans Against Homosexuality, a blog.


I grew up in an extreme environment of violence and hatred: the American Deep South in the 50s and early 60s, in Savannah, GA, where learning not to question was an important part of learning. I was lucky, though; because I grew up Southern, Jewish, impoverished (and incredibly queer), I was able, at an early age, to question much of what was going on. In fact, I soon realized there were two “realities” then: the “reality” of the way the world was, and the reality of the way people wanted the world to be.
This second reality is an “in our own image” world: in Savannah, it was all-white, totally straight, and very Anglo-Saxon-Protestant Christian. Most kids are brought up in an “our own image” situation, but it’s becoming harder with so many different images now. But I came of age in a seething furor over preserving that “in our own image” environment.
I now see a similar process going on in many places in the world, especially in black Africa: a strange, mirror-image of Savannah where white people were taught to fear and hate blacks and homosexuals were occasionally thrown into the mix as unseen bogeymen. Presently, we experience a condition of extreme hate actions and words directed against a target of ostensibly white or Western homosexuality being seen as something alien to and infecting the purity of black Africa. This is being done often under a Christian guise, which makes me question its real meaning.

First, I have no doubts that East African homophobia plays into an “in our own image” mindset, and that “image” is free from AIDS and “righteously” monogamous. Monogamy was a goal of Christian missionary work, though much of African tribalism bridled at it. Monogamy is still not considered manly for many African men: women are to be contested for, and the more you have, the more manly you are. In the old days, Christian missionaries could attack African male promiscuity with fire and brimstone; they can’t anymore. All they can do is scream at homosexuality and its “promiscuous” sex-outside-of-marriage sinfulness, while trying to ignore male heterosexual promiscuity, especially in urban Africa. There is also the specter of Islam, a very aggressively proselytizing religion, knocking loudly at the door. Islam for centuries was very “hush-hush” about homosexuality: in fact, it was often considered merely a private alternative to strictly controlled heterosexuality. But again, today with too many images in the air, Islam has become loud and harsh about a situation it used to tiptoe around. Therefore, the question in black Africa is: who is going to hate “queers” the most, Islam or Christianity, and of course guess who will suffer the most from this hatred?

A third specter comes up: AIDS, and the embarrassing fact that AIDS started out in Africa as a heterosexual disease, that came into the human population through eating bush meat, or the flesh of primates. This fact has been scientifically proven, but that does not soften the shame and embarrassment caused by AIDS, and how that shame will (hopefully) be obliterated if it is cast onto the bodies of African gay men and lesbians, who are coming out despite the oppression they are under.
All of this is a recipe for a living hell for many lgbt people in many areas of Africa, but the worst part is not being able to speak about it, being too “politically correct” (or “polite” as we used to say in the South) to see what is under the hate language, and exposing it. A lot of Africans will be frightened to death by homophobic extremism, and many will, literally, die from it, because it answers so many needs to cover up so much. I think we need to take the cover off this as soon as possible. LGBT people in Africa need to see that they are a real part of “in our own image,” and the world needs to show this with bravery, frankness, and sincerity.

More about how I feel about subjects like this at my website, www.perrybrass.com.

Michael Lucas Likes Me

January 20, 2008

Hello Perry,

Here’s my quote:

“Smart, sexy, and suspenseful-everything you could want in a great novel.”

Best regards,
Michael Lucas
CEO, Lucas Entertainment
http://www.LucasEntertainment.com
http://www.myspace.com/lucasblog
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=825840456

I met Michael Lucas the way most people from serial killers to future saints meet: through MySpace.
Actually, I had met him at New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual Services Center, sometime in the misty past, through Michael’s partner who for a long time was president of the Center’s board. So, I met Richard his partner, and then Michael, but being pretty green to the ways of celebrity and fame, had no idea who Michael was then, that is he seemed like a pretty regular person to me, rather than a media mogul, porn superstar, fascinating piece of human architecture, etc. (which is usually the way he’s presented). In fact, he seemed like just a nice Jewish boy, like lots of them I had grown up with, which is another of Michael’s personas.
But, we met through MySpace, and I proposed friendship immediately, which, gratefully, he accepted. And of course being a writer, on the lowest link of the fame feeder chain (Gore Vidal’s hoary joke about the Polish movie star: “She moved from Warsaw to Hollywood and the first thing she did was fuck the writer . . . so what’s the punch line? That is the punch line, stupid!”), I offered to send him a copy of new book Carnal Sacraments, A Historical Novel of the Future, because, of course I wanted him to option it for one of his movies . . .
(No, I’m not that stupid, I sent it to him because I figured he’s a regular smart guy making it this time in the guise of a porn star, so he’d like the book: as the Jews say, ehmiss: meaning honest.)
So he sent me a real address to mail the book to; I did, and of course I wanted some kind of gushing blurb from him. (I mean, I’m not that dumb: writers are notoriously pious about their motivations, after all, we’re supposed to be the guardians of the First Amendment; but even writers who mythically screw Polish movie stars aren’t that dumb.)
So we did a little dance around that: he was too busy being Michael Lucas (whom some people still call by his natal Russian name, Andre), putting out new movies, opening up supermarkets and community libraries, going on talk shows, getting his picture on the cover of normally boring Genre magazine, while I plugged away at getting some word from the porn mogul/superstar model (“Most beautiful man in the world”) /business man-entrepreneur, etc.
And finally, of course, this did happen: which only goes to show you something that I’m sure Michael would agree with 100%: if you want something ask for it. And don’t be afraid of doing it. I also began to understand that Andre was actually reading my book. I could tell that, and since English is not his first language, it took him a while to do it. Good, Michael. Ehmiss.
So now, here it is: Michael Lucas does like me. What a weird thrill that is, that the auteur of Gigolo and La Dolce Vita (New York style) does like me . . . exactly like Sally Fields gushed at the Academy Awards. For this I can only say, Thank you, Michael.
Or Andre.
Ehmiss.

Perry

Tea Room Sex, A Blast from the Old Past?

December 4, 2007

Today I read a wonderful entry in Jesse Monteagudo’s email journal that he sends out his friends, and also posts in his own blog, about male public restroom encounters. It really made me think about what is happening here, and why we are so appalled at what has basically been going on since guys got together to pee in the back of the cave. Here’s Jesse’s journal entry, and at the end I include my own response, which I thought was interesting, too.

Sex and the Daytona Beach 9

Male homosexual activity in public bathrooms, for decades a fact of gay life, became big news in 2007, thanks to the misadventures of conservative politicos like U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Florida State Representative Bob Allen (R-Merritt Island) and the (mostly unfounded) complaints of Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle. Now come the “Daytona Beach 9;” nine men who were arrested for lewd behavior during a sex sting operation at a Sears Department Store bathroom in Daytona Beach Nov. 1. According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the accused include “a former Daytona Beach city commissioner and a local high school teacher” who promptly resigned from his job. “The reason that we did this sting is we all go to the mall; our kids go into the bathroom,” said Police Chief Mike Chitwood, who could hardly contain his disgust. “That they could be susceptible to this type of behavior is absolutely a disgrace.” (Please note that I refuse to name the Daytona Beach 9. In my opinion, these men have suffered enough already.)

Public sex, especially sex in public toilets or “tearooms,” has always been controversial, even within our GLBT community. Almost without exception, bathroom sex is male masturbatory or male homosexual, proof perhaps of the male’s greater sex drive. (It is not my intent, in writing this article, to condone bathroom sex. In fact, due to its health, safety and legal hazards, I do not recommend it.) There are many reasons why a man would want to have sex in a public restroom. For some men, bathroom sex is a step in the coming out process; a relatively easy way for them to discover the joys of male love before moving on to gay social networks, commercial institutions, or even a life partner. For other men, tearoom trade is their main or only form of sexual expression. Many of these are repressed “closet cases;” men who can not or will not accept their homo- or bisexuality. For them, a quickie in a toilet satisfies their sexual needs but does not require them to be publicly “branded” as queer, which would be the case if they went to a gay bar, sex club, community center, church, etc. This was apparently the case with Sen. Craig, Rep. Allen, and at least some of the “Daytona Beach 9.”

What makes a public bathroom a hotspot for tearoom sex? Though opinions differ, a bathroom’s location often makes it a favored place for sexual activity. College campuses are ideal tearoom locations, if only because colleges are full of testosterone-charged young men who still question their sexuality. Public parks are also popular (ask George Michael) as well as libraries and department stores (like the Sears in Daytona Beach). Once a place gets a “reputation” there is no telling what might happen. A good example is a Home Depot store in Oakland Park, Florida, which in its heyday was notorious for its men’s room activity. How did that Home Depot become so cruisy? Certainly the store’s butch image attracted a certain type of gay man. Perhaps two guys hit it off at the paint section, went off to do their business in the bathroom, and then told their friends. And the rest is history.

Male homosexual activity, especially in public places, threatens a lot of people, which is why the media have a field day with sex stings like the recent one in Daytona Beach. The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s excited coverage of the Nov. 1 arrests is a case in point. The day after the arrests were made the paper (and its Web site) published an article (“Ex Daytona commissioner, teacher charged in sex sting”) which not only published the names, ages and professions of the accused but also their mug shots. The next day the News-Journal ran a second article (“Mall bathroom sex sting spotlights subculture”) that tried to analyze “a subculture in which adult men meet for sex in restrooms designated online as hot spots, almost in plain view of unsuspecting patrons.” In fact, the only explanation of this “subculture” came from police Sgt. Jeff Hoffman, who talked about “coughing, grunting, sharp zipper noises, … tapping on shoes” and other “signals” used by men to attract sex partners. Though the accused limited their sexual activities to masturbation, they were nevertheless arrested “because a bathroom stall doesn’t completely conceal a person” and, thus, “he has no expectation of privacy, making any sexual behavior unlawful.”

As if that was not enough, the paper followed this tidbit with a third article (“Activists say arrests a setback for gay community”) that claimed that “the entire local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is going to have a harder time than ever gaining equality and convincing people that only a tiny fraction among them is interested in sex with strangers in public places.” That’s a lot of responsibility to be placed on the shoulders of nine formerly closeted men. Not surprisingly, the News-Journal’s coverage of the arrests “generated more than 120,000 page views and hundreds of comments on the News-Journal’s Web site Friday. That’s more traffic than the entire site gets on a normal day.” Needless to say, most of the comments were even worse than the cops’.

The media justify their lurid reports by protesting that bathroom sex threatens the well-being of “innocent” bystanders, especially children. Leaving aside the question of whether or not witnessing sexual activity is more traumatic than watching a traffic pileup or a Fort Lauderdale City Commission hearing, the fact remains that an unsuspecting child is more likely to be hit by a bolt of lightning or win the lottery than run into sexual activity in a public john (unless he’s looking for it). As any vice cop could tell you, catching men having sex in restrooms is difficult, which is why they often have to resort to entrapment or other extralegal subterfuges. A sting operation like the one in Daytona Beach is newsworthy because it is so unusual.

The media will also deny that they are conducting a witch-hunt against gay or bisexual men. But a witch-hunt it is, and many of our brothers have paid the price for it. Thirty years ago, reporters used hidden cameras to catch men who gathered in gay bars. Today, the media use similar tactics to catch men having sex in public parks or public bathrooms. In fact, today’s accused have it even worse, for they are branded for life thanks to sex offender laws and the Internet. One does not have to condone public sex to agree that media coverage of sex sting operations is often sleazier than any crimes that the stings seek to prevent. We can feel sorry for the accused, which is why we agree with the Rev. Beau McDaniels of Hope Metropolitan Community Church, who “said she can understand why some local gay and bisexual people go underground. It’s a conservative area where people’s sexual preferences can ruin their careers, she said.”

“If people would learn to accept people as God accepts them, we wouldn’t have this issue,” Rev. McDaniels said. “When you’re told it’s wrong and bad, you hide. This will drive us deeper underground.”

I welcome your comments. You may reach me by e-mail at jessemonteagudo@aol.com.

Dear Jesse,

That was a great journal entry. I really enjoyed it, and thought it was marvelously written, very clear, mostly dispassionate, and “spot on,” as the kids say.

Most gay men who’ve had any experience and fairness out in the world don’t condemn bathroom sex; they may not like it, but to outright condemn it because “I’d never do it,” seems pretty ridiculous. It’s been going on since the early 19th century, at least, when public facilities became available. In fact, one famous “house of comfort” in Central Park was visited by Walt Whitman, and was notorious after the Civil War as a place to meet soldiers, sailors, workers, and other “tradesmen.” In England, it was very popular, especially during Edwardian times, and these places were referred to as “cottages,” so it was called “cottaging.” Since England had ferocious laws about picking up anyone in a bar (constant entrapment), the “cottages” were considered safer. Usually what went on there was not complete sex, just a dangling of equipment, a few winks, and then something was done outside. Although that was not always the case.

A lot of the uproar about bathroom sex, or tearoom sex, really comes from the feminization of our commercial culture. Women, back in the 19th century, were pretty much aghast at the idea of public facilities. They were things men used. Women did not use them; they used facilities in hotels or lady’s shops, if they had to “go” outside the house. Usually, they just held it in, so that women often suffered from terrible bladder problems. But it was considered unladylike to go to do “it” in a place open to the public, so the idea of one of these places being used for sexual as well as excretionary purposes was really disgusting to the WCTU crowd. Men usually laughed at what was going on. It was often considered simply a part of being a man, and the Paris pissoirs were infamous cruising places, and no one ever got busted in one. It would have been considered, in itself, a breach of privacy and manliness. If you did not want the advances of a man, you just let him know and pronto!

I think this attitude was pretty much in force in America, even up until after World War II, when public facilities really started opening up, and women started using them as well. So the old feminine disgust at anything else going on in these places except an “extremely private function,” snowballed. For women, the public bathroom was a place for primping, and anything other than that was totally locked up, with an attendant out in front to make sure it stayed that way. Since no real man ever primped, it meant that he had to get in and out of these places in a nano-second, and any dallying around was considered suspect. In fact, for two men even to go to the bathroom together was considered suspect. A few years ago, a friend of mine and I, who like to go together to piss, were caught by a waiter peeing at once in the same toilet. I thought the waiter was going to faint.

So we now have this idea that bathrooms, or as the Irish say, “shit houses,” are sterile, sacred places where only God, pissing and dumping can take place, and everyone buys into that. Now that the YMCAs of America have all gone co-ed, the parks are patroled to the level of state of prisons (New York’s Central Park is said to have one cop, plainclothed or not, for every 40 visitors), and people are way too tasteful or stylish to consider cruising department store johns (due to the armies of ribbon clerk queens who used to staff department stores, they were infamous), this form of sexual display, in all of its basic, crude, animal splendor, is really off limits. Decent, all-Americans would rather meet via the Web, where they can lie to their hearts content about their assets, age, etc. And there is that most sanitized of all sexual encounters, phone sex, which requires nothing more than a jack and a credit card.

In a way, it’s sad, but I’m sure that a lot of people will say that the Daytona Nine had it coming: they are a throw-back, and as everyone knows, we hate themThe author in his own bath.

Perry

Friday, Sept. 7, 2007: The most important phone call of my life

September 10, 2007

Perry Brass, author of Carnal Sacraments and other books. I got what may be the most important phone call of my life today: from my urologist, Dr. Hashmat who practices in Brooklyn. He told me that the prostate biopsy that he did a week ago last Monday came back “normal.”

“You’re normal,” he said. “I know you must be anxious to hear this.”

I felt like someone had handed my life back to me. This huge weight had been hanging over my head and I’d been trying desperately not to feel it, pretty much living in denial, trying to go about my business as if nothing were happening. Twice, the first week after the biopsy was done, I’d woken up about 2 a.m., jolted from anxiety. I got up, walked into another room, sat down on the couch, and tried to keep from going out of my head. I kept telling myself how fortunate I’d been. I’d been able to live my life almost exactly the way I’d wanted to live it–had done what I had set out to do–been able to write books, poetry, songs, plays, articles for God-knows-how-many magazines. I’d given a number of people pleaure in their lives–I was very fortunate. But even more fortunate, I’ve been loved, really loved by some wonderful men and women. My partner Hugh, my closest friend Robert, my sister, our friend Susan, my wonderful best friends Jeff Campbell and Marc Collins, who is are longer alive, only two of the terrible victims of AIDS; there are others, but that is what is important in the long run, being loved, being able to feel it and know it.

I was so lucky. By sheer fortune, I found a doctor who started to see that my PSA level was rising: it was 4.2.–7 is prostate cancer–so she sent me to see Dr. Hashmat, an excellent urologist, and he looked seriously at me and decided that we needed to do this biopsy. We did it in his office. It was painful: I can’t lie about that. Even with a large dose of anesthetic, it felt like this rattle snake was running up my ass and biting me in there. He took 7 samples from various sites on the organ, and then told me to wait until the anesthesia wore off. I was dizzy and a bit nauseated. Robert came to Brooklyn to accompany me back to Manhattan, and then the Bronx. Hashmat had warned me that I would see some blood in my urine, my stool, and my semen. But I wasn’t prepared for how much blood would appear the first time I urinated. It was scary, and it continued for the first day or so. My groin felt terrible, like I’d been kicked in it; but I did not want to feel that, all I wanted to do was not be worried about it. Just try to . . . be someplace where I would not have to think about that word cancer at all.

My father had died of colon-rectal cancer at the age of 42. I was 11 when he died, and never was told what he had died of. Back then, in 1958, in the Deep South, you never mentioned words like “colon,” “rectal,” and “cancer” to kids, as if there was something obscene in the Southern mind about all of that: it was too involved with the real body, and everybody knew where that could lead: to the truth itself, something no one could venture into when I was growing up.
The truth was absolutely shameful, so you stayed as far away from it as possible.
We’re still staying away from the truth about so much, but I am grateful for the candor and frankness people now have about things like prostate cancer.
I joked to a friend that I never knew what the word “prostate” meant until I was about 36. Prostate was a part of that nether region that was not supposed to be broached in polite company. I knew that there was a pleasurable aspect to it–ask anyone who’s into anal sex–but exactly what the prostate does, and often what it leads to–anyway, I had little idea.
I do now. And I’m deliriously grateful that I’ve dodged this particular, scary bullet, to put it mildly. I’ve now got the rest of my life before me . . . but then, in truth we all do.
Perry
www.perrybrass.com

Carnal Sacraments: A great review makes a my day!

August 28, 2007

Last weekend, one of my friends in San Francisco alerted me that Jim Provanzano, the arts editor at Bay Area Reporter, had written a favorable review of Carnal Sacraments in the latest issue.
I was delighted—Belhue Press had sent a review copy to Provanzano, and I had hoped that he’d review the book. Bay Area Reporter is one of the best lgbt papers in the country, and is the “newspaper of record” for the gay and lesbian community of San Francisco—so I’d had my fingers crossed about a review.
Getting books reviewed nowadays is not easy, especially since in the pecking order of queer writers, I make Kathy Griffith’s “My Life on the ‘D’ List” look waaay out there. If she’s on the “D” list, I must be on the X-Y-Z list. I’m not a celeb; I’ve never outed a Republican congressman or a closeted, fundamentalist preacher; I’m not a major league baseball player (I know, you’re all waiting for Derek Jeeter to jeet himself, but it seems like it ain’t happenin’ yet); and I’m not a star in Mixed Martial Arts (which may become my new fascination: imagine a sport where two incredably hot guys hug each other close, keep almost balls-to-balls body contact, and then throw a crazy few punches at one another—who’d-a-thunk it?)—anyway, I’m none of that. I’m just a . . . OK, I’m a good writer, I know that. False modesty is not part of my paraphenalia.
But I was pleased as all get-up at the review, so just in case you’ve missed it, here’s Jim Provanzano’s take on Carnal Sac:

Minority retort: Futuristic executive makeovers & breakdowns

[review] Published 08/23/2007

by Jim Provenzano

Carnal Sacraments by Perry Brass; Belhue Press, $16.95

Set at the end of this century, Perry Brass’ Carnal Sacraments tells the story of Jeffrey Cooper, a design executive who’s reached the pinnacle of his career, which involves supervising global marketing campaigns for superfluous luxury products.

Few know how long it took Cooper to climb his way to the top. As with many other elites in this dystopian world, while appearing to be a dashing 30something, Cooper is actually in his 70s. A regimen of injections, surgeries and other processes keeps his youthful appearance. Underneath the facade, however, Cooper is about to suffer a nervous breakdown, particularly when a lumbering stranger punches him on the subway.

His later coincidental meeting with his assailant, a Dutchman named John van der Meer, leads to a strange and passionate affair that may ruin his precarious status as a tastemaker for the world.

Set mostly in Berlin, where the Arkansas-born Cooper works, the book’s conversations and nicknames are sprinkled with German terms. (A glossary is provided, but mostly unnecessary, with the phrases understandable in context.)

Unlike most other science fiction novels, despite some teleconferences and the expected Orwellian government surveillance, Brass dispenses with futuristic jargon, gadgets and machinery in his novel. He instead focuses on the inner paranoia of an upscale executive fearing his inevitable downfall.

Although set in a future where the government has become a corporate voyeur of every aspect of middle- to high-income citizens, leaving the lower classes to barely documented yet surveilled status, Brass’ novel, like most good “futuristic” fiction, actually comments on contemporary society. Cooper’s wealthy gay friends, up-ended by illness, are forced into a government-controlled frozen status. John, Cooper’s love interest, is relegated to poverty, living in a shack in a forest outside of Berlin.

Cooper gushes with neurotic emotion and pent-up frustration with his “system-assigned” therapist, who warns him of the potential dangers of his romance with John.

Then, in an impulsive gesture, Cooper accepts an invitation from a scheming yet supercilious younger executive in India. Cooper and new mysterious lover embark on a mystical yet conflict-laden vacation. More dark secrets are revealed, and Cooper’s limits and capacity for love versus his grasp on his career are tested.

Layered with philosophical elements, fascinating descriptions, and a clear focus on character overall, Brass’ latest work is one of the most unusual novels I’ve read in years.

[end of review]

Wow, that was good to read! There were a few ickies: like Jeffrey Cooper is from Alabama, not Arkansas—but why quibble? He got the book, and I’m very happy. You can learn more about Carnal Sacraments, why it took so long to come out, and why you must buy the book at my website, www.perrybrass.com. Or, even better, just get the book at Amazon, or your local lgbt bookstore [Frankly, as a gay writer, I’d prefer you get it there; but if there’s none around you, you can do Amazon]. It’s only $16.95 retail, which is about the price of 3 beers at any joint in the country now, or one and a half mojitos, or a Big Mac and a mojito—anyway, life is short, books are still cheap, and for the cost of a ticket to a crappy movie at some noisy mall, you can take me home with you, snuggle up and enjoy “one of the most unusual novels I’ve read in years.”
Thanks for your time. Keep them cards and letters a-comin’. Yours, Perry